Housing News Roundup: August 17, 2017
Are Granny Pods the Affordable Housing of the Future?
Upon learning that the rent on her family’s apartment was more than doubling, Michelle Labra was devastated that her family would have to move out of Portland and her kids would have to switch schools. But a community group helped Labra’s family relocate to a tiny, 800-square-foot house in a neighbor’s backyard, often called an accessory dwelling unit or granny pod. “We’ve never had a place that’s new like this,” Labra said. The units, which are a way to relax zoning rules and keep low-rent housing in single-family neighborhoods, are gaining popularity in cities experiencing rising housing prices. The rent is still a stretch, but Labra is thankful she did not have to destabilize her children.
New Charter School Provides Supportive Services to Homeless and Low-Income Children
Crete Academy, a charter school in South Los Angeles that opened Monday, will provide wraparound services for its 130 elementary school students, most whom are in low-income families and 10 percent of whom are homeless. The school, which offers a college preparatory curriculum, will provide two medical exams, two dental screenings, and access to mental health services on-site. Half the staff members are social workers, caseworkers, and other professionals dedicated to wellness. Crete Academy also has partnerships with nonprofits to help homeless students’ families get into permanent housing. “We’re unique in that we believe a child’s well-being is as important as their academics,” said Hattie Mitchell, the school’s founder and CEO.
A Tiny Change in This Jail System Could Prevent Recidivism and Homelessness
Correctional health staffers in Maricopa County were blown away when a small change on their jail intake forms led to huge revelations about their inmate population. After adding a checkbox asking inmates whether they had gone without housing at any point in the last year, a quarter said that they had. The share is even higher among mentally ill inmates. As a result, the jail system partnered with public housing, health care, and human services agencies. Caseworkers now meet with homeless inmates to line up apartments, medical care, and jobs immediately upon release. “Connecting these folks with the necessary housing and services does two things: It reduces the cost on our emergency systems and first responders and jails. It also gets these people off the streets, so there’s a quality-of-life component for these communities,” said Margaret Kilman, a program manager for the county’s human services department.
Source: AZ Central
Renovations Displace Section 8 Tenants and Expose Others to Poor Conditions
A major contractual dispute has halted the renovation of a Section 8 apartment complex housing hundreds of low-income families in Miami, Florida. Tenants remaining in the building have lived with exposed wires and pipes and boarded-up windows that let in water, and they are frustrated by the lack of explanation behind the delay. “There are a lot of bad smells. There’s lots of noise. There are a lot of rats,” said 58-year-old Olga Vicente, a current resident. Giralda Perez Molina is one of 130 residents the US Department of Housing and Urban Development has relocated during the work. “We ask them, and we don’t get anything—any information.…No one pays attention and goes and sees what’s going on there,” she says. She was moved to Miami Springs and is upset to be far from her doctor and the rental office she must visit monthly. Residents are scared to complain about conditions because they fear eviction.
Source: Miami Herald
NYC Law Is First in the Nation to Guarantee a Lawyer for Every Resident Facing Eviction
A new law will protect all New York City residents facing eviction and bring due process to the previously imbalanced housing court. Until 2014, 1 to 10 percent of tenants were represented in cases, but 90 percent of landlords appeared with counsel. The law guarantees legal representation to any resident facing eviction whose income is 200 percent of the federal poverty level or less. This will reduce the number of households experiencing transitional homelessness, reducing costs to cities. Although other cities have set up similar programs, this law is the first in the nation to establish right to counsel in housing cases.